On the Road to Excellence

9 April 2013

Commencement Address of Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Commencement Exercises
Bicol College
Daraga, Albay

Chairman and President Pedro M. Marcellana, Jr.
Vice-president Ma. Luz T. Macasinag
Members of the Board of Trustees, faculty and administration,
Our 2013 graduates,
Beloved parents, distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning.

Let me express to you my sincerest thanks for your invitation to be with you on this special day as your guest of honor and speaker and to have the chance to share this momentous occasion with you, joined by your parents and relatives, teachers and mentors, and friends.

Faced with task of delivering a memorable commencement speech, the humorist Art Buchwald told one graduating class: “remember, we are leaving you a perfect world. Don’t screw it up.” And then he bade them goodbye. It is, according to some, the shortest and best commencement speech ever delivered. But I will not do that for your graduation is so important an occasion for all you that to do a one-liner will not be doing justice to your commencement exercises.

Allow me to begin by paying homage to the great founder of your college, engr. Roque Figueroa Tabuena, who established this first non-sectarian private educational institution in the province of Albay. From its humble beginnings as the Albay Institute in 1941, today we have seen it metamorphose into the Bicol College, currently offering a variety of courses in the fields of liberal arts, commerce and education; criminology and midwifery, etc as well as high school and elementary instruction all levels.

As the Americans would remark, “you’ve gone a long way!”

Indeed your province and Daraga have been most fortunate to have benefited largely from the wisdom and vision of the Engr. Tabuena of bringing quality education to the youth and families of the Bicol region of our country, without having to dislocate and relocate many of the school youth of this province who were in quest for an affordable quality education in their very own locale.

I therefore take my hats off to you, dear graduates for having afforded yourself the chance and for taking advantage of the opportunity right here in your Province of Albay to help your beloved parents in acquiring the most important asset – the asset of knowledge and wisdom that a good education brings. And I salute your fathers and mothers for the guidance they have provided you and the encouragement they continue to give you to pursue the noble objective of acquiring the power of knowledge from this 72 year-old institute of learning, the education that has prepared you for your future careers and professions in the real world.

As each of you accept your diploma this morning please be most thankful for this great blessing that has been showered upon you. But more importantly, be always mindful of the fact that with this blessing and with this opportunity goes the responsibility that you carry as a concerned and a proactive member of your town and your province, and most of all, as a citizen of our beloved country.

You have been so fortunate for this holistic formation that your school administrators and mentors have prepared for you so as to mold you to become men and women for others, not only in your local communities, but more especially as you take part in the challenging task of nation building for a better philippines in the community of nations!

My dear graduates, your completion of your college studies is indeed rewarding and fulfilling! For four or six long years, you have studied long and labored hard to complete your course requirements. You have sometimes endured the terror of dealing with difficult and demanding professors. You may also have been touched by the compassion and concern of some caring teachers and mentors.

Of all the things that you have learned from your parents and your teachers, let us hope that you have learned this - that values count as much as the core knowledge of the course you have majored in.

I emphasize this point because deeply-held values are the only true foundations we can build our lives on as individuals and, in a wider and higher plane, as a nation.

If you will permit me to share with you some lessons I learned from my parents and my grandmother who was a teacher herself, and the training I received from my mentors, the first and most important value that one should never forget is the value of hard work and the importance of effort.

And to go on, the second value or virtue that i earnestly urge you to always keep in mind is the power of persistence and tenacity.

Former us president Calvin Coolidge was not exaggerating when he wrote: “nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not.

Perhaps the most telling story illustrating this is that of Madame Curie and the discovery of Radium. After the failure of their 487th experiment in their research for Radium, her husband Pierre Curie cried out in despair. “It can’t be done. It can’t be done. Maybe in a hundred years, it can be done, but never in our lifetime”. Madame Curie answered him calmly and simply, “if it takes a hundred years it will be a pity, but I dare not do less than work for it as long as I live.” In their next few experiments radium was discovered.

And talking of perseverance, what Sultan Kiram and his people have been doing these past many weeks is a vivid lesson in persistence. The Sultanate of Sulu and its people have been pressing their claim for Sabah for over a century now. Somehow, someday their persistent efforts will bear fruit. Till then, we cannot do less than to work for it as long as we live forever.

Ladies and gentlemen, not all the news coming out in the media are bad or sad. Just last month, i was encouraged to read the news that some ten Filipinos had made it to Forbes magazine’s annual list of billionaires.

The list is edifying because nearly everyone, particularly the topnotcher, Mr. Henry Sy, earned his billions through patient toil, ingenious investing, and continuous build up of his family firm, shoe mart, into what it is today.

These billionaire compatriots are all worthy of emulation and admiration by all of us.

But much as we are awed and dazzled by the numbers and the billions, there is also a corollary lesson and value that I would like to impart to you all.

Earning and making money is not all there is to life. When I was studying for my masters in business administration, I was struck and moved by something that the great management teacher Rosabeth moss cantor wrote in the Harvard Business Review. She said that “money should never be separated from its mission. Money is an instrument, not an end.” Detached from its values, the desire for money may indeed be the root of all evil, as we are always reminded! But linked effectively to social purposed, it can be the root of opportunity that could branch out into more abundant fruits!

I am certain, as well as hopeful, that in their own respective ways, each of our Filipino billionaires is linking their wealth to a useful social purpose. They are creating jobs with their business activities. They give to charity to share their blessings and to help alleviate the poverty in our country!

Today, we are seeing more Filipinos succeed in the world. It’s not just the huge sums that they are earning that compel our admiration, it’s the way they are succeeding through sheer talent and honed skill, not to mention perseverance, thus raising the image of our people in the international scene.

Let me cite a few examples:

There is the world boxing champion, Manny Pacquiao, where the eight boxing titles in eight different weight divisions will perhaps never be surpassed in the record books. It did not happen in one day, or in one fight, but slowly and steadily through the years.

I am also awed and gratified by the way so many Filipinos are making it on the global stage as accomplished theatre and cinema actors and actresses! Then we have our world - renowned performers in the field of music, like Arnel Pineda who rose from his humble beginnings to become the lead singer of journey. Which gave us the memorable song “Don’t Stop Believing?”

Filipino singing talent has become so ubiquitous that contest judges now assume that whenever there is a contestant who can really sing, they must or could be Filipino. Let us not forget Jessica Sanchez, of Filipino descent who almost became the American idol.

Dear graduates, I have taken the time to talk about the great qualities of these achievers and the qualities that have enabled them to become great, because they are undisputedly the products of our country and our culture, and the values we live by. And there are even many more achievers in the fields of science and academe that to mention them all would take much more time than is available for us today and I know you are all eager to begin your celebration.

Our country is a community of shared values. Throughout our history, our nation has always been carried forward by our people and our values and led by our forebears and heroes! We have risen many times from the greatest trials and adversities by caring for one another, and holding on with tenacity and fortitude to our deep faith in ourselves and in the Filipino.

The members of graduating class of 2013, this century are your time, and it is now your turns to shine in what is still a beautiful and wonderful world. Seize the day! In latin, carpe diem!

As you move on, you will have to make your own choices and commitments in your respective professions!

As it was for other generations, it now falls on you to meet the challenge of passing on a better country to those who will come after you.

I sincerely hope and pray that you will carry on proudly, with honor and dignity!

After all, you are a Filipino, a child of the universe, a product of creation! Go forth and face that world! Your time has come!

And to your beloved parents go my deepest admiration and highest respects for their infatigable determination and unwavering commitment to the pursuit of your proper upbringing and successful education as you receive your hard-earned diploma today!

Congratulations once again on your graduation.

Maraming, maraming salamat at mabuhay kayong lahat!

Magandang umaga!